How The TEEN TITANS Movie Lineup Will Determine the DCU’s Future

When fans think of the DC Universe, chances are the first team that comes to mind is the Justice League. The Justice League is undoubtedly one of the most famous groups in fiction. However, the Teen Titans are arguably the glue that holds the world of DC Comics together. The significance of the Titans did not develop overnight, but rather over the course of several decades. And this is what makes the announcement of a live-action Teen Titans movie set in the DCU exciting. To define the Teen Titans lineup of characters is to define the course of the DCU’s future. 

So what’s so special about the Teen Titans? Unlike many areas of Marvel Comics, DC Comics is deeply entrenched within an idea of legacy and plurality. It’s why so many superhero mantles have been carried by different people over time. (Five people have been Robin in DC’s main continuity, for instance.) The Teen Titans as a group have thus become a springboard for the next generation of DC heroes. Three different Robins—Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne—have led the team at one point or another. It’s also no accident that Nightwing was declared to be “the center of the DC Universe” during the 2022 Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths event. His time with the Teen Titans gave him ties to several different corners of DC lore. 

Which Teen Titan Lineups Could Appear in the Upcoming Live-Action DCU Movie?

The New Teen Titans Lineup From Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s Era

New Teen Titans #1 comic book cover with character lineup
Marv Wolfman/George Pérez/Dick Giordano

The lineup for the upcoming Teen Titans movie has a few different options. The most famous iteration is from Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s run, aptly titled The New Teen Titans, beginning in 1980. The team was led by Robin, and featured established characters like Wally West’s Kid Flash, Donna Troy’s Wonder Girl, and Beast Boy. Brand-new characters of Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven also came into the mix. The bulk of this lineup would star in the hit 2003 Teen Titans animated series. (The show tragically left out Kid Flash and Wonder Girl from the cast.)

But while massive parts of Titans lore were created during Wolfman and Pérez’s New Teen Titans and New Titans series, like Nightwing’s iconic “Disco-wing” suit and their archenemy Deathstroke, the team’s membership has indeed changed over time.

The Original 1960s Teen Titans Lineup

Original Teen Titans cover issue #28 from 1970
Nick Cardy/Steven Skeates/Ben Oda/Dick Giordano

When the Teen Titans first debuted in 1964, they originally consisted of Justice League sidekicks, Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad (Aquaman’s buddy named Garth). Donna Troy then joined the team as Wonder Girl. There’s also Green Arrow’s sidekick, Speedy (Roy Harper). The 1960s lineup had deep, personal ties to the Justice League. It’s not a surprise, then, that some of the original Titans, like Roy Harper and Wally West, would go on to join the Justice League decades later. 

The Geoff Johns and Mike McKone Teen Titans Lineup From the 2000s

cover image of teen titans lineup from 2003
Geoff Johns/Mike McKone/Marlo Alquiza

Another Teen Titans lineup worth mentioning is from Geoff Johns and Mike McKone’s run, which began in 2003. The team was led by Tim Drake, Batman’s third Robin, and featured Cassie Sandsmark’s Wonder Girl, Superboy, and Bart Allen’s Kid Flash replacing Wally West in the role. Bart is the grandson of Barry Allen, the DC Universe’s main Flash, and a cousin of Wally West.

The 2003 Teen Titans cemented the theme of legacy that defines the DC Universe, considering that many of them were the second person to hold their particular superhero mantle. Using this specific team in the DCU would imply the existence of Dick Grayson as Nightwing and Wally West as The Flash elsewhere in the universe. Johns and McKone’s run also revealed that Superboy was the clone of both Superman and Lex Luthor. With Nicholas Hoult already cast as Luthor in James Gunn’s Superman movie, the building blocks for this dramatic reveal are already laid. 

The Relationships Between These Teen Titan Characters and the Justice League

And this is precisely why the Teen Titans are such an important team to the DCU’s future. If the film goes with the ‘60s lineup, which still has yet to appear in its full glory in live-action, this would mean that Justice Leaguers like Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and of course Batman would make their DCU debut further down the line.

Characters like Speedy and Kid Flash can’t materialize out of thin air. Kid Flash is The Flash’s nephew, for starters. Wally West is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the larger Flash Family in DC Comics. Similarly, Green Arrow’s network of sidekicks and allies, many of whom have been on the Teen Titans, form the Arrow Family. The same applies to Wonder Woman and two of the Wonder Girls, Donna Troy and Cassie Sandsmark. Plus, the Teen Titans have acted as a window for Justice League members’ different mentorship styles, which HBO’s Titans largely left out. 

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Teen Titans to the DC Universe. As a flagship team, they have incubated a given decade’s most promising characters. And they serve as a branching off point for various character “families” within DC. With so many different Titans lineups to choose from, DC Studios’ decision ultimately reflects the tone they want to set for the DCU. Do they want to establish a more comic-accurate picture of the DC Universe, with Green Arrow, The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman are nexus points to larger groups of characters? Time will only tell.

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